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Fair Gives Kids’ Health Shot in Arm

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Parents whose children have not been immunized can take advantage of Kids Care Fair 1991 Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get all required shots free, along with health screenings and family health education.

But kids should take heart: In addition to those hated shots, there also will be face painting, fingerprinting, crafts booths, clowns and balloons.

The Kids Care Fair was so successful last year at 10 Southern California sites that its sponsors have expanded to 37 sites in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, San Diego and Sacramento counties. In 1990, almost 11,000 adults and children attended and 4,429 immunizations were given.

“We want parents to realize that they should get their children vaccinated early, not wait until they’re ready to go to school,” says Diana Buckhantz of Children Now, a child advocacy group that is one of the fair’s sponsors.

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“Parents think that children don’t need shots until they go to school, and that’s a misconception we want to change. And if they’re not getting shots, they’re probably not getting basic regular preventive health care.”

During the recent measles epidemic, Los Angeles County reported 41 deaths from the disease between December, 1987, and July, 1991; most were children under 3 years of age, according to Dr. Shirley Fannin, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and a board member of Kids Care Fair.

“The impact of measles on the county was incredible,” says Fannin. “Of the cases, 27.7% had to be hospitalized, and the cost was millions and millions of dollars. The intent of Kids Care Fair is to promote child health care and promote education among parents. We want to (better) the immunization rates and promote different health attitudes. . . . We hope parents will bring the younger ones along with the older siblings.”

A 1990 study for Children Now found that almost 60% of 2-year-olds in California were not adequately immunized against preventable illnesses.

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Each fair site will provide full immunizations for children between 2 months and 6 years of age and health checkups for children ages 3 to 18. Serum for the vaccinations is provided through the participating county health departments.

All 37 sites will offer immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella; DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis); polio, and HIB (hemophillis-influenza B).

Basic health screenings include a health history; height, weight and growth profile; vision check; blood pressure; dental screening, and a family health consultation. Some sites will offer optional screenings, such as dermatology, dyslexia, podiatry, hearing and allergy.

Each site will include a “safety booth,” where children will receive information on how to protect themselves from preventable accidents, and a “Mom and Dad booth,” where parents will be provided information on a variety of topics, including prenatal care, eating disorders, AIDS and early drug awareness.

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Southern California parents seeking information on the location and hours of Kids Care Fair sites nearest them should call (800) 356-KIDS; in the Sacramento area, call (800) 967-KIDS.

“The fair will offer immediate care, plus a lot of information on where to go for additional care,” says Buckhantz. “We want families to come away with information and health education. There are 2.1 million children in California with no access to public or private health insurance. That’s a 62% increase over the past six years.

“Those are not just low-income children. Those are children of the working poor as well who don’t qualify for MediCal or have health insurance, so they don’t take their children for preventive care.”

At Kids Care Fair, families also will receive information about where to take their children for low-cost or no-cost shots and health care. For example, all 41 clinics run by the Los Angeles Department of Health Services offer free immunizations, as do clinics supported by private funding, such as the Venice Family Clinic.

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“It’s important to get kids started on their early program,” says Norma Rosales, staff pediatrician at the Venice Free Clinic and a member of the fair board, “and for the parents to know where to take them. Here at the clinic, we do on a daily basis what the Kids Care Fair is trying to do on a weekend. The fair offers a service, as well as education.”


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